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Scouting Trip - Ceiba Del Mar, Azul Beach, and Le Reve


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#1 tracysf

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    Posted 29 May 2010 - 11:01 PM

    Hello Everyone!

    I am finally posting my reviews from my scouting trip last month! Please let me know if you have any questions.

    Below is a review of each of the hotels we went to see. Basically, all of the hotels are beautiful, but I have learned over the last few months that everyone has really different taste and the only way to find your venue is to really prioritize what is important you. For us, we wanted a small boutique hotel where we could have a private ceremony and reception, we wanted a nice beach, and the room rates to be somewhat affordable for our guests. We also wanted a very natural looking place (nothing over the top or cheesy). So given all of this we basically narrowed it down to Ceiba Del Mar, Azul Beach Resort, Le Reve, and Mahakal. There were really no other hotels that we could find that matched this criteria. Below are some pros and cons from each and I also posted pictures to Shutterfly site. See link below.

    Ceiba Del Mar:

    Pros: We just love Ceiba. It is exactly what we are looking for. Very nice and definitely a luxury hotel, but also simple and very natural looking. This place is just SO relaxing. However, with the right crowd—this is a perfect place to throw a great party. The beach is beautiful. There is some seaweed on the beach, but they rake it up in the mornings.

    Pros
    A lot of options for wedding reception and ceremony location
    Very nice staff
    Great swim up bar and pool (the pool is actually really big for a hotel this size)
    Very intimate/private wedding locations
    Beautiful beach
    We loved Puerto Moreles –which is the little town about 10 minute walk away. Its very authentic mexico town. Some good taco restaurants and great beach
    They have bikes you can borrow to bike to Puerto Moreles (I love that)
    Snorkeling right in front of the hotel and a dive shop at the hotel to plan excursions
    Free Yoga every morning in the pier and gym (small but at least they have one)
    The penthouses are amazing
    rooms are great- all have views of the water and even the most basic room is really nice, good size and have balconies


    Cons:
    Farther from Playa Del Carmen
    The food was okay---everyone keeps saying it is wonderful, so I am hoping I was just there on a bad day.
    They currently do not have an official wedding planner- Diana works in sales and is taking over both jobs as far as I know
    I have read some bad reviews on this site which make me nervous—however there are also a ton of great reviews on this site and on trip advisor.
    The back-up rain option is not great (small room in front of hotel with no views of water)


    Le Reve
    Pros: ARELENIS! The wedding planner, Arlenis is amazing! She was by far the best wedding coordinator we met. You can tell she genuinely cares about each bride and making each wedding perfect. She is so sweet. I have heard from past DW brides that this is the siingle most imporant thing to ensure a stressfree wedding.
    The hotel is GORGEOUS. Very chic and modern. Lots of bamboo and dark wood. It is stunning when you walk in.
    Close to Playa Del Carmen (10 minutes)
    Hotels close by (walking on beach) –great for guests that need a cheaper option or for over flow
    The reception area has a roof—so no worries if there is rain.
    Rooms are very nice (especially the ones on the 2nd floor that have large decks and unblocked views)

    Cons: There really aren’t any that I can think of. It just isn’t big enough for us. Only 30 rooms. We really want all of our guests to stay in one hotel. Also this is not an All Inclusive hotel—which could be a pro/con for different people. Oh, and their pool and pool bar is kind of small. Perfect for a small group but not for us

    Azul Beach
    Pros: By far the most organized and best tour that we had. They have little appetizers and drinks at every stop for us. The hotel was gorgeous, tons of food/restaurant options (more than Ceiba). Great pool, nice beach, rooms are nice but have small bathrooms. Defintiely a 5 star hotel. Its very nice. Food was also great. There are a few different bars (one big bar outside andd antoher one indoors) both look like they would be a ton of fun with a wedding groiup.
    There is a villa next door that you can rent which I heard was nice but we didn’t see it.
    Con: The only con for us is that their reception area only fit 70 people. Unless you want to get married right on the beach, then 70 is their max. So this didn’t work for us. Also, this is a very kid friendly hotel (kids pool and activities—they even give you cribs and strollers in your rooms). This is great for groups with kids, but we don’t have any.

    Mahakal: I can’t say much about this hotel because we decided not to cancel our appt after seeing the beach. It is right on the public beach in PDC which is one of the few access points for the public (most beaches have to be accessed via a resort). It was very dirty and crowded. For us, having a somewhat private ceremony was important.
    Pros: it is right in PDC which would be really convenient for guests, etc. Really nice outdoor palapa for reception. Cheap rooms
    Cons: Public/crowded beach



    here are all the pics:
    http://venuepics.shu...ly.com/pictures



    Let me know if you have any questions. I have been at this for a while--so happy to help. However, I dont know much about the big resorts. We went to Secrets Capri and Dreams but didn't stay long. Oh, and we visited El Dorado Maroma ---it is AMAZING. We might do part of our honeymoon there!

    #2 lalanyc

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      Posted 29 May 2010 - 11:40 PM

      Hey Tracy, thanks for posting! Coincidentally, we also visited those hotels on our scouting trip (plus several others).

      Re: Ceiba, they do have a new coordinator named Lilia but it seems coordinator activities are being split between her and Diana. It's important to understand that Ceiba is definitely more hands off when it comes to wedding services. That's a good thing if you're willing to shop around for vendors and price compare. However, for brides that want a one-stop shop, this is definitely NOT the place for them.

      So far I have appreciated the ability to choose my own vendors but it is a lot of work (though I suppose it would have been the same effort if I were doing an at-home wedding)! If you are ok with being hands on, though, then you'll be ok. Also, there are several houses and condos very close to the hotel that could serve as cheaper options for guests on a budget. Would be happy to pass along details if you want.

      Good luck w/ your choices!

      #3 tracysf

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        Posted 30 May 2010 - 10:23 AM

        Hi LalaNYC! Thanks, that is really helpful!! Lilia must be new--I asked Diana when I was there in April and she said she was doing all the weddings. Yes, I do like that about Ceiba. We have over 100 guests so the packages at other hotels didn't really work for us. We are looking to have more of a traditional wedding. I hired a wedding planner in the US to help out. I would love it if you can share the condo/villa information! Thanks so much! The only thing that worries me about that is that people staying at the condos would have to pay a guests pass to come hang out with everyone at the pool, right?

        #4 christamh

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          Posted 31 May 2010 - 11:40 AM

          I went to see Ceiba last week and I think your review is spot on. Initially I thought it would be the best choice for me, but I was a little disappointed by the food and the rain contingency plan. The hotel itself is lovely though and just as presented on their website. I was given a tour by Diana and Pilar, who I was told would be planning my wedding, so the 2nd slot there seems to be rotating. I haven't ruled it out yet, but I feel like if the food wasn't great during the tasting, how will it be when they are making it for a large group with less care?

          #5 tweets.13

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            Posted 31 May 2010 - 10:37 PM

            Thanks for the great info all of you! My fiance and I are heading to Mexico on Friday - Ceiba and Le Reve are two on our list. We are on the fence about Azul Beach, but after reading your info it is tempting to check it out.

            #6 mexbride83

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              Posted 01 June 2010 - 04:42 AM

              Quote:
              Originally Posted by lalanyc
              Hey Tracy, thanks for posting! Coincidentally, we also visited those hotels on our scouting trip (plus several others).

              Re: Ceiba, they do have a new coordinator named Lilia but it seems coordinator activities are being split between her and Diana. It's important to understand that Ceiba is definitely more hands off when it comes to wedding services. That's a good thing if you're willing to shop around for vendors and price compare. However, for brides that want a one-stop shop, this is definitely NOT the place for them.

              So far I have appreciated the ability to choose my own vendors but it is a lot of work (though I suppose it would have been the same effort if I were doing an at-home wedding)! If you are ok with being hands on, though, then you'll be ok. Also, there are several houses and condos very close to the hotel that could serve as cheaper options for guests on a budget. Would be happy to pass along details if you want.

              Good luck w/ your choices!
              I actually received an email from Lillia on May 13th informing me that she was leaving. It seems that they have a very high turnover rate with wedding coordinators, which does worry me. But Diana is wonderful to work with, so I mostly just go through her. And as you said, it's pretty much on you to plan the wedding at Ceiba, which is why we chose it. We didn't want a package wedding, so the wedding coordinator isn't as important, I suppose. Below is my email from Lillia. I love the "have a nice life" hahaha:

              Hello!

              This mail is just to let you know, that I won’t be working anymore at Ceiba del Mar. The new person who will be taking care of you and your wedding details is Paola S¡nchez (same email address), she is working with me this days just to get familiarized with your files.

              My last day is on Saturday 15th May. It was a pleasure for me to work with you and be part of your dreams.

              Thanks for all, and thanks for let me work for you!!

              Have a really nice life!!!

              Lilia J. Gim©nez Anaya
              Coordinadora de Bodas y Grupos
              Wedding and Groups Coordinator
              Ceiba Del Mar Spa Resort
              Tel: + 52 998 872 8060 ext 282
              Fax:+ 52 998 872 8061
              The Ceiba del Mar Spa Resort - A Riviera Maya Luxury Hotel

              #7 tracysf

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                Posted 02 June 2010 - 04:10 PM

                Mexbride- that is really funny! Have a nice life :)

                LalaNYC- another question for you. Diana told us that 80% of our guests have to book at the hotel. So curious if you have the same requirement? The prices are a bit high so I am nervous that some friends might have to stay somewhere else.

                Tweets--You should definitely check out Azul. it is pretty close to Ceiba (5 minute drive or so). Their wedding planner is really sweet and it is a great property. It is family friendly (with a kid pool and even cribs/strollers that they bring to the room). Not sure if that is what you are looking for. But even if you dont expect kids to come to your wedding- the hotel is still really nice.

                Christa--I totally agree. I talked to a few other Ceiba brides that posted reviews on Trip Advisor and they said the food was great. I am hoping we can do a tasting when we get there (a week before the wedding) and choose the best option. I am not sure this is possible yet--but I think the key is to just choose one of their best dishes (Diana or the WC should be able to steer us in the right direction). I find that simple is always better...

                #8 mexbride83

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                • Jr. Member
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                  Posted 03 June 2010 - 05:03 AM

                  Tracy - Have you decided on where you are going to have your wedding? I am nervous about these food reviews. Hopefully it was a new chef or something and things will get straightened out!

                  Also, I did not have any requirements in my contract about a minimum number of guests staying at the resort.

                  #9 AishaB

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                    Posted 03 June 2010 - 05:25 AM

                    Quote:
                    Originally Posted by tracy.clements
                    Hello Everyone!

                    I am finally posting my reviews from my scouting trip last month! Please let me know if you have any questions.

                    Below is a review of each of the hotels we went to see. Basically, all of the hotels are beautiful, but I have learned over the last few months that everyone has really different taste and the only way to find your venue is to really prioritize what is important you. For us, we wanted a small boutique hotel where we could have a private ceremony and reception, we wanted a nice beach, and the room rates to be somewhat affordable for our guests. We also wanted a very natural looking place (nothing over the top or cheesy). So given all of this we basically narrowed it down to Ceiba Del Mar, Azul Beach Resort, Le Reve, and Mahakal. There were really no other hotels that we could find that matched this criteria. Below are some pros and cons from each and I also posted pictures to Shutterfly site. See link below.

                    Ceiba Del Mar:

                    Pros: We just love Ceiba. It is exactly what we are looking for. Very nice and definitely a luxury hotel, but also simple and very natural looking. This place is just SO relaxing. However, with the right crowd—this is a perfect place to throw a great party. The beach is beautiful. There is some seaweed on the beach, but they rake it up in the mornings.

                    Pros
                    A lot of options for wedding reception and ceremony location
                    Very nice staff
                    Great swim up bar and pool (the pool is actually really big for a hotel this size)
                    Very intimate/private wedding locations
                    Beautiful beach
                    We loved Puerto Moreles –which is the little town about 10 minute walk away. Its very authentic mexico town. Some good taco restaurants and great beach
                    They have bikes you can borrow to bike to Puerto Moreles (I love that)
                    Snorkeling right in front of the hotel and a dive shop at the hotel to plan excursions
                    Free Yoga every morning in the pier and gym (small but at least they have one)
                    The penthouses are amazing
                    rooms are great- all have views of the water and even the most basic room is really nice, good size and have balconies


                    Cons:
                    Farther from Playa Del Carmen
                    The food was okay---everyone keeps saying it is wonderful, so I am hoping I was just there on a bad day.
                    They currently do not have an official wedding planner- Diana works in sales and is taking over both jobs as far as I know
                    I have read some bad reviews on this site which make me nervous—however there are also a ton of great reviews on this site and on trip advisor.
                    The back-up rain option is not great (small room in front of hotel with no views of water)


                    Le Reve
                    Pros: ARELENIS! The wedding planner, Arlenis is amazing! She was by far the best wedding coordinator we met. You can tell she genuinely cares about each bride and making each wedding perfect. She is so sweet. I have heard from past DW brides that this is the siingle most imporant thing to ensure a stressfree wedding.
                    The hotel is GORGEOUS. Very chic and modern. Lots of bamboo and dark wood. It is stunning when you walk in.
                    Close to Playa Del Carmen (10 minutes)
                    Hotels close by (walking on beach) –great for guests that need a cheaper option or for over flow
                    The reception area has a roof—so no worries if there is rain.
                    Rooms are very nice (especially the ones on the 2nd floor that have large decks and unblocked views)

                    Cons: There really aren’t any that I can think of. It just isn’t big enough for us. Only 30 rooms. We really want all of our guests to stay in one hotel. Also this is not an All Inclusive hotel—which could be a pro/con for different people. Oh, and their pool and pool bar is kind of small. Perfect for a small group but not for us

                    Azul Beach
                    Pros: By far the most organized and best tour that we had. They have little appetizers and drinks at every stop for us. The hotel was gorgeous, tons of food/restaurant options (more than Ceiba). Great pool, nice beach, rooms are nice but have small bathrooms. Defintiely a 5 star hotel. Its very nice. Food was also great. There are a few different bars (one big bar outside andd antoher one indoors) both look like they would be a ton of fun with a wedding groiup.
                    There is a villa next door that you can rent which I heard was nice but we didn’t see it.
                    Con: The only con for us is that their reception area only fit 70 people. Unless you want to get married right on the beach, then 70 is their max. So this didn’t work for us. Also, this is a very kid friendly hotel (kids pool and activities—they even give you cribs and strollers in your rooms). This is great for groups with kids, but we don’t have any.

                    Mahakal: I can’t say much about this hotel because we decided not to cancel our appt after seeing the beach. It is right on the public beach in PDC which is one of the few access points for the public (most beaches have to be accessed via a resort). It was very dirty and crowded. For us, having a somewhat private ceremony was important.
                    Pros: it is right in PDC which would be really convenient for guests, etc. Really nice outdoor palapa for reception. Cheap rooms
                    Cons: Public/crowded beach



                    here are all the pics:
                    http://venuepics.shu...ly.com/pictures



                    Let me know if you have any questions. I have been at this for a while--so happy to help. However, I dont know much about the big resorts. We went to Secrets Capri and Dreams but didn't stay long. Oh, and we visited El Dorado Maroma ---it is AMAZING. We might do part of our honeymoon there!


                    This is great info. Thanks for posting.
                    BDW the best place for my TYPE A personality!

                    #10 Future Mrs. M

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                      Posted 03 June 2010 - 11:44 AM

                      Great Review! I visited Ceiba and Le Reve when we were there in Decemeber as well.
                      We fell in love with Le Reve and their beach and also how intimate it is. Their grounds are beautiful.
                      When we went the room they were pretty booked. They could only show us one room at Ceiba and it was probably one of their worst ones. I'm glad you were able to see more than us though! Their dock is really awesome and the staff seems really friendly!

                      Wedding Date 11/12/2010- Riviera Maya - Hacienda Tres Rios





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